Somehow, my husband and I seem to have a habit of buying the ugliest house on the block. It’s true. In fact, one time at our previous house, a neighbor I had never met before approached me just to let me know that he thought we had the worst looking house in the neighborhood. To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure how to respond to that!
I, of course, want the outside of my home to look nice and to reflect my style, so over the years, we’ve had to completely renovate the front yards of our homes. These projects take a lot of time and money, though, and so we had to live with the ugly yard for a couple of years before we were able to tackle the landscaping project. As such, I became a master at making the best of an ugly situation without spending a lot of money!
5 Ways to Boost Your Curb Appeal (without painting or re-landscaping)
1. Pick Up!
Those with an attached garage may not use the front door on a regular basis and as such, might not realize what is accumulating in the space – FedEx tags, phone books, flyers. And sometimes, the front door becomes a dumping ground for items that you don’t want to bring in the house, like muddy shoes, wet umbrellas, or boots. Other times, items we had placed outside as decor have faded or broken over time and now look like debris instead of decor (like flower pots that no longer have plants in them or garden statues that have chipped). You can instantly boost the look of your home if you take a few minutes to clean all of these items up, giving guests a clear walkway to get to your door. You want people to focus on your home, not the clutter.
2. Use Mulch
It’s amazing what a transformation you can make with a little mulch! Just adding a small layer of mulch (about 2″) to the dirt surrounding plants instantly makes the yard look cleaner and more polished, plus it’s actually good for the plants because it locks in moisture, inhibits weed growth and helps maintain a more moderate soil temperature year round.
Mulch is also a great way to cover up dead patches in the lawn that are often found at the base of trees. Instead of leaving the grass to struggle to grow around the tree, you can use mulch to create a planting bed at the base of the tree.
There are many different types and colors of mulch available, but my personal preference is black mulch, versus red or brown, simply because it looks more like dirt and is less noticeable. Depending on the type and brand, though, sometimes the black mulch is just dyed black and if that’s the case, it comes off on your hands when you are spreading it and it fades over time, so try to find a brand that will last. (Tip: It’s often less expensive if you buy mulch in bulk, but if you don’t need that much, you can just purchase it in bags. Spring is a great time of year to find sales on mulch at some of the bigger home improvement stores, which cuts down on the expense.)
3. Prune the Trees and Shrubs!
Overgrown yards not only block the view of a home, but also look uninviting to neighbors and guests. Additionally, landscaping that is touching the home can also damage the siding in the long run and also acts like a bridge for critters such as rats and raccoons that might be looking to gain access through the roof.
To keep your home from looking unruly and to minimize any damage, keep bushes trimmed from the windows and prune or thin any trees that are either touching the home or are blocking the view. Regular maintenance on the yard will also keep the plants healthier over time.
4. Dust & Wash
If you’ve never taken time to look at your front windows from the outside, you might not realize just how much dirt, debris and cobwebs accumulate on the sills. Be sure to brush them off so that there is not a pile of dirt sitting on the ledges (the easiest way is with a hand broom). Also, keep the windows and the screens clean, both from the inside and the out. Lastly, a light power washing of your home’s siding will remove dirt that has settled over time. Take care not to damage your siding, though.
5. Add Some Color with Flowers
Nothing looks as welcoming as a bit of fresh color to a home’s exterior. Consider adding flowers around the mailbox, walkway and/or entryway for a cheery and inviting look. Annuals offer a ton of color but you will of course have to replace them every year. Alternatively, you can select perennials that bloom at different times of the year to ensure that there is color year round. Annuals can then be used on a smaller scale in planters or pots. Check with your local nursery to find out what plants grow best in your area and what plants will thrive in your yard based on the sun exposure.
If you have a larger budget for exterior improvements, here’s a short list of other items that can further enhance your home’s curb appeal:
- Paint your front door
- Replace your mailbox
- Upgrade your address numbers
- Add some walkway lighting
- Upgrade the hardware on your front door
- Put a fresh coat of paint on your shutters and trim
It’s easy to overlook the front of our homes and to put landscaping projects toward the bottom of the “To Do” list, but just a couple of quick, inexpensive things can make a big impact on your home’s curb appeal.